Tired of Pretty Words

'Search for Lyns leads to dump', The Observer, December 22, 2006.

'26 slain in four days', The Gleaner, January 5, 2007.

'7th violent attack on police so far this year', The Observer, January 8, 2007.

Jamaica is one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. Jamaicans are among the most exuberant people on Earth. By all rights, this should be one of the best places in the world to live. But can the people in a country with daily headlines such as those above be happy?

Intellectual Balance Needed

In A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell posits two fundamental political outlooks, the constrained and unconstrained visions. The first is best expressed in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, which accepts man's moral limitations and egocentricity as inherent facts of life. Rather than wastefully attempting to change human nature, it tries to make the best of the possibilities existing within that context.

The Last West Indian Hero?

They should have talked of cut and glance

described the dance

he did on such or such a day

on what green floor

on what astonished field

Instead, they said he was a gentle man,

praised him as a model for his race,

noted with aplomb he took his place

as Senator; a leader cherished

by his men, in friendship steadfast,

who, in spite of bitter recollection,

loved his country at last

Any clown can play the gentleman.

Lock up Repeat Offenders for Life

Crime as a career - repeat offenders are 80 per cent of arrests, cops say - The STAR, September 4, 2006.

"Repeat offenders contribute to over 80 per cent of crime locally, according to police. And despite rehabilitation programmes in prisons and extensive periods of incarceration, they choose to stick to their illegal ways" ... "some men are simply unable to be rehabilitated," said a courts office worker.

"Most of the persons we are now arresting are repeat offenders," explained Inspector Clayton Ritchie. "We (police) get the impression that these criminals are just getting fat and waiting to come out to commit more crime," charges Sup. (Derrick 'Cowboy') Knight."

A Chiney-Jamaican in China

"You are what you eat," proclaimed Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1825, and he was probably right. But, a week in Beijing cheering on Jamaican athletes at the World Junior Games convinced me again that you are also what you speak.

Since both my grandfathers were born there, visiting China should be a bit of an ancestral pilgrimage. But, not knowing a word of Mandarin made it difficult to feel any spiritual bond with the place.

Life without Free Speech

What is it like to live in a country where the government decides what you can hear or say? It's a state of mind those who consider free speech a birthright really can't comprehend. And it's something Jamaicans could and would never tolerate.

Miss Lou, Your Culture Lives On

"Is like mi grandmother dead!" That was the reaction of a friend to the passing of Louise Bennett-Coverley. And it's probably how most Jamaicans feel. Rex Nettleford and Barbara Gloudon are no doubt right that Miss Lou would not wish us to mourn and we should be celebrating her life and legacy. But, when someone who has brought so much joy to so many leaves us, well it's hard not to shed a tear.

Losing the Human Rights Plot

IT'S HARD not to admire those who spend a lot of time and energy for little pay defending the rights of the less fortunate.

So, I greatly respect bodies like Amnesty International and Jamaicans for Justice. But, rubbish is rubbish even when it emanates from organisations founded on noble ideals. And ­ of late ­ human rights groups have been making some rather dubious comments about the Jamaican situation.

Loving the 'Ole Dawg' Life

LAST MONTH, my friend Nadine McKenzie and I fell into a conversation, not for the first time, about the mystifying behaviour of Jamaican women. Or at least they're mystifying to us, as we both lived abroad in early adulthood and so perceive monogamous relationships as the norm.

Licensing the Jamaican Penis

Dear Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller,

THE FAMED anthropologist Bronislaw Malin-owski considered the principle of legitimacy a universal sociological law. The crucial determinant of legitimacy in his view was the male's public commitment to his child's mother, not the widely varying concept of legality. So let's dispose of the 'out of wedlock' red herring immediately. What matters is not a piece of paper, but the father's willingness to give emotional and material support to his offspring.